Mass Effect EP3: Barfights Solve Everything

By Josh
on Sep 22, 2012
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I still maintain my position on Marina Sirtis. Troi was a poorly-written character that had nowhere to go and nothing to do besides “I sense deception” and “Someone is using absurd space magic to attack my empathic senses!” Interestingly enough, originally Sirtis and Denise Crosby (who played Tasha Yar during the first season of TNG until she was killed by a sapient oil slick) were slated for the opposite roles – Sirtis was to play Yar and Crosby was to play Troi. In retrospect, it would’ve been interesting to see how things turned out under those circumstances. Crosby became disillusioned with the series while playing one of the characters with lots of stuff to do in the first season, and it’s doubtful things would’ve been different with her as Troi, so we might’ve actually seen the Troi character killed off before the end of the season. On the other hand, where would Worf have ended up without the opening that Yar’s death provided?

Ehem. Yeah so, Mass Effect!

Interesting bit of backstory to an incident in this episode that I don’t think we’ve ever told before: When Randy blurts out “What do you mean you’re disappoint?” out of nowhere around 15:19, he was actually talking to Mumbles. She was in a different channel and he was using a binding to send voice messages specifically to her while she watched the stream without actually, you know, being on the show yet. So Mumbles has actually been involved with the show, at least indirectly, for a lot longer than you might’ve thought.

I wasn’t splitting the audio into separate files for each person for editing at this point, and my own editing skills were, shall we say, “crude.” Thus, at the time, I hadn’t figured out how to remove that line from the episode. And so you have a two year old mystery that I’m sure nobody remembers but me that’s finally solved.

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2020201171 comments. (Seventy-one is the largest supersingular prime!)

From the Archives:

  1. Lame Duck says:

    Worf would have become the new councillor. And I think we can all agree it would have been a better show because of it.

    • Hitchmeister says:

      Interesting idea. But it’d still never be as good as this commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qiQI-zrPvQ

    • Wedge says:

      I love Worf to death, but he suffered from a lot of the same one-note writing that Troi did. He was basically there to be angry most of the time. He got to grow a lot as a character on DS9, though.

      But yeah, Troi is one of the worst characters on TNG, and it’s entirely the fault of bad writing. I admit she was probably a difficult character to write for, but most of the time she either ended up as a crutch for the writers to develop a plot hook, or saying things that were already obvious to the audience (“I sense deception!”), or getting her psychic powers shut down by the space anomoly du jour and being entirely worthless.

      • Chuck Henebry says:

        It’s interesting to learn that Sirtis was originally slated for the security officer role, and to realize that TNG was considering such interesting casting choices. Certainly they wound up with very clich├ęd casting after the death of Tasha Yar: the big black guy playing the klingon warrior-security guy, and the voluptuous woman with the foreign accent playing an earth-mother empath.

        But here’s the funny thing: I’m not sure that counter-cliche casting would have been very successful. TV is necessarily broad-brush, especially when you’re trying to revive a beloved but long dead series. Too much clever casting just makes the series feel muddled.

        I’m a liberal guy with lots of political correctness training, but when I saw the first season as a college sophomore, I was repeatedly bothered by what felt like a mismatch between Worf’s look and his role on the bridge as communications officer. When Tasha died and Worf took over as security chief, I liked it.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        It’s certainly worth noting that even the ’empath’ in Team America: World Police is a more interesting and well-rounded character than Troi was in all her Trek appearances combined…

      • Khizan says:

        Worf’s problem was that his entire role was the Tough Guy. And because he was the Tough Guy, every enemy they wanted to be threatening beat him up to prove how tough they were, with the end result that the Tough Guy stopped being tough because the enemy du jour kept knocking him around.

        Sloppy writing all around, imo.

        • Eric says:

          Worf’s other problem was that he was basically a representative of the new Klingons in TNG, i.e. honor and pride and war. He was there to be “the Klingon” and not necessarily a character in and of himself a lot of the time. This improved as the show went on but at least for the first several seasons he was largely there either as the fall guy, comic relief or to facilitate Klingon-oriented plots that didn’t end with the Enterprise getting destroyed.

          • FalseProphet says:

            Once in a while, they actually explored it in interesting ways. Worf, being raised by Federation humans, revered the ideals of Klingon civilization. But not being raised in that culture himself, he didn’t know most of those ideals were just myths Klingons told themselves in public, while privately plotting assassinations, treachery, embezzlement, etc.

        • anaphysik says:

          Obligatory Evil Act of the Day (TvTropes version):
          http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheWorfEffect

      • Incunabulum says:

        The idea of the “councilor” position onthe ship is a good one – basically a combination of the head of a psychological services department and a Command Master Chief/Sergeant Major.

        The real problem comes in trying to justify that person being a 1st tier character (as compared to Beverly Crusher’s 2nd tier character). And the logic hole it leaves when you extend this to other ships – Troi is midly usefull on the bridge because of her empathic abilities so are all the other councillors betezed? And if so, why hire Troi instead of a full betazed who has full-on *telepathic* capabilities. And if not, why is there a reserved seat for her on the bridge?

        • ehlijen says:

          I never thought it was her seat. I assumed it was Captain, XO and one in case an Admiral choses it as a flagship (and which can be used for other guests if unoccupied).

          Though in first contact situations a xenopsychologist might be handy even if not telepathic?

          • FalseProphet says:

            Yeah, with all the insane things the Enterprise encounters on a regular basis, some kind of therapist would actually be a valuable asset to the crew. But of course, they rarely wrote any scenarios for Troi to actually counsel other crewmembers (the bit where it implied she was helping Geordie recover from his Romulan brainwashing was a nice exception), and when Troi did do counselling, the writers had no idea how psychiatry worked–or alternatively believed their New Age-y Zen koans would work as therapy in the 24th century–so she came across as incompetent.

            • ehlijen says:

              I actually meant less of a counsellor role and more of a researcher role. A behavioural psychologist would be of immense help to understanding new cultures.

              Though of course Troy never did any of that on the show :(

      • Eric says:

        I dunno, in the later seasons of TNG, at least he had a character. Alexander gave him a lot of depth and I always thought it was interesting that unlike the usual “TNG crew is perfect” stuff, Worf was basically a horrible father whose parenting was completely unsuited to any sort of human standard. It was obvious he cared less about Alexander than he did about connecting himself with Klingon society and culture that he missed out on, and tried to live vicariously through him, which was an interesting twist and not the kind of father figure you usually see on television.

        Troi meanwhile never developed beyond “I don’t like being mind raped” and “my mom sure is annoying!”

        • Klay F. says:

          I thought the idea of a Klingon father trying to raise a child on a basically completely human starship was genius. There are mountains of interesting ideas that could come of that single premise. Instead, we got “Worf playing Sheriff in a Western.”

    • James says:

      Counsellor Worf would’ve been amazing. “So you are having thoughts of a woman other than your wife? YOU HAVE NO HONOUR!”

      • Eric says:

        “When another child bullies you, you do not simply accept it. You must taste his blood and rip out his heart, so that he might know fear before he dies. A true Klingon would never let an insult go unpunished!”

  2. Klay F. says:

    I believe I’m in the minority among nerds in that I enjoyed Yar’s character much more than Worf’s in TNG. I probably would have liked Worf had the writers not made him the most comically inept Klingon in history. Personally, I blame Roddenberry for giving screen time to the the “therapist” over the chief of security. I don’t know if he was actually responsible, but its exactly the kind of thing he would do. I mean seriously, this is a guy who told his writers to write “drama” but wouldn’t allow for inter-crew conflict.

    Anyway it speaks volumes that Worf didn’t actually become interesting (or capable) as a character until Ron Moore took over.

    • Soylent Dave says:

      Worf’s problem is that he is the character from the planet of hats whose hat has fallen off.

      But sometimes he puts the hat back for a little bit, just to see if it suits him.

    • Eric says:

      To be honest I don’t think the actress who played Yar was suited to the character at all. She really did not strike me as especially tough or confident and I thought she looked rather ridiculous beating people up who were twice her size. I’m not really sure she was a very interesting character either – sure, she wasn’t Werewolf Man, but aside from that one time she slept with Data (while drunk) I don’t think she got any sort of character development.

      • Klay F. says:

        You aren’t wrong. I still liked her more than I did Worf in TNG though. My reasoning for this is I think I liked her potential as a character more than the character itself though. After Ron Moore took over, I started liking Worf more. Part of the reason it looked dumb for her to beat up people twice her size is because Star Trek sucks a choreographing fights. It looked no less stupid for her to beat people up than it did for Kirk.

  3. Spammy says:

    I’m going to agree with Shamus here, it’s a wonder that more Specters don’t go rogue. You operate in secrecy, with no oversight and apparently no real orders. You just put an end to threats to galactic security… whatever you decide those are. Hell, you couldn’t even actually send a loyal Specter to get a rogue Specter then if the person you’re sending doesn’t think the rogue is a threat. I’m surprised that ever Specter doesn’t make themselves a rogue cell.

    • Irridium says:

      I think the reason they don’t all go rouge is because they’re the best of their respective race. Only those that have proven that their loyalty and are the least likely to go rogue get in.

      Kind of like how Valve hires employees, actually. They only take the best after a pretty thorough interview process. Some bad eggs do get in, but not many, and are dealt with when they do pop up.

      Kind of silly to compare a game company with a galactic group made to keep the peace, but the principle is the same. Hire insanely talented individuals, and just let them work.

      Not sure how many there are though, I’m pretty sure it’s a very small number. Around 100 in all or so. Not quite sure where I heard it, might have been a random NPC commenting on it, a part of a conversation, or maybe in the codex, but I’m pretty sure I heard it somewhere in ME1.

      • IFS says:

        So if the spectres are space valve does that make cerberus space EA? They acquire and lose new cells all the time, tend towards self-destructive idiocy, and are widely hated.

        • Din Adn says:

          That would be pretty hilarious if you extended the analogy.
          Cerberus’s inexplicable resources are actually funded on the proceeds from their highly successful line of dolls and sporting goods.

      • Otters34 says:

        I remember the same thing, there being only a hundred or so people in SPECTRE.
        As for the low-frequency of them going off on their own, I would agree that that’s at least partly because of a very strict selection process…if not for what happens right here in the episode. Shepard gets into it as a political favor to make the humans happy, and gets this whole mission as a favor. Don’t tell me there weren’t many much more experienced SPECTRE agents the Council could have contacted and sent after Saren. I would say it’s mostly because of most of them having a long history fighting together and such. That and the prestige of simply being one would be a powerful motivator to not not to rebel against or gainsay the Council who made them and can break them.

        • Irridium says:

          Yeah, it’s kind of fudged for you to become a spectre.

          And yeah, the process of Shepard becoming a SPECTRE is pretty… weak, to put it lightly. There are good reasons for it to happen (you’re the only one apart from Saren who used the relay, so you’d have the best idea of what his plans are and how to stop them), but the game doesn’t really use them. Though Shepard is part of the Alliance’s highest Spec-Ops rank, N7, and are arguably their best, so it’s not like their inducting just some soldier into SPECTRE… but still, could’ve been handled better.

          • StashAugustine says:

            I was under the impression that Shepard was already almost a SPECTRE anyway, they just rushed the process a little at the end.

          • Dirigible says:

            Isn’t it established during the opening cutscene that Shepard is already being considered for SPECTRE status? I thought it was more a case of “Well, if you’re about to become a SPECTRE… here’s your first mission, I guess”

            • Otters34 says:

              First of several mettle-testing projects, yes. But Shepard wasn’t a shoo-in by any means. Only under the threat of humans being even more sulky than usual, and with the understanding that a human in the agency would make ‘everyone happy’ with regards to solving the Saren problem, were they entered in after the debacle on Eden Prime.

            • Fang says:

              That’s what I thought: “Okay, we need a Spectre… someone that we know for a FACT won’t turn and help Saren… SHEPARD! By jove, you was being considered a Spectre anyway! You can do it!”

              • Mike S. says:

                Also, “This will cost us absolutely nothing, since Earth will generously donate its prototype stealth ship. Earth resources will deal with Earth’s colonies’ problem and something that has the Earth Alliance agitated– plus pursue Saren, who’s apparently gone rogue– and all we have to do is stamp it official, slightly accelerate something we were already planning to do, and let Shepard shop at the Spectre store. Sure, no problem.”

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Of course, we just saw the weak-sauce and nearly-worthless salarian spectre in Mass Effect 3… soooooooooooooooo.

    • Lame Duck says:

      It clearly exists as a story element purely to justify why Shepard is allowed to piss around doing sidequests and psychoanalysing her team-mates without getting fired. Sort of like how there are only three council members because having a whole parliament of people would be really hard to do, but it brings up all sorts of questions about how the galactic government works. And actually, when combined with how the end choice of letting the council die is treated, paints more of a picture of a trio of space emperors than a democratic council.

      • Klay F. says:

        I thought the role of the council was rather clear. At least to me. Each species has a government completely separate and sovereign from the council, except in matters of defense and colonization rights. This is why the Salarian dalatrass isn’t also the Salarian councilor, and why the Turian primarch isn’t also the Turian fingerquotes expert. Its basically space-NATO. The Spectors are like UNATCO agents.

        • Otters34 says:

          Saren to one of the Councilors “I never got to make the SPECTRE pledge, how about this: I swear to destroy the humans encroaching on our space and any who stand in my way, and all who have corrupted the Council’s mission”

        • Lame Duck says:

          Is that how it’s supposed to work? The way Anderson and Udina were talking about getting onto the council to be able to influence galactic policy I always assumed that it had general law-making powers. I thought of it more like a space European Union.

          • Klay F. says:

            Well, I think that the Council is responsible for the treaty that limits the number of dreadnoughts each race is allowed to have, so maybe the Council has the power to create treaties like a more powerful UN.

            • Lame Duck says:

              Wasn’t it also the Council that outlawed AI research?

              • Klay F. says:

                Wouldn’t that be a matter of defense? What I’m trying to say is that I highly doubt the council can just go and make decisions willy-nilly without at least gaining the support of their respective governments.

                You know the council didn’t just decide one day to limit the number of dreadnoughts. How do you think treaties like that come about?

                This is why you don’t see the councilors constantly screwing each other over in an effort to gain more power for themselves. They only have power so long as they faithfully represent their species’ interest.

                • Irridium says:

                  From what I can tell, all the races are pretty much left to their own devices. The council is more or less called in is during matters concerning multiple races. Like during the First Contact War between humans and turians, the council intervened and put an end to it. And the aformentioned dreadnought treaty (treaty of Fairaxin, I think it’s called), AI (after the Geth defeated the Quarians), and galactic commerce. Well, for they outsource galactic commerce to the Volus, but still.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      The same reason there are not that many rogue spies outside of the movies).You profile them heavily before you even give them a chance to prove themselves.Of course,no amount of profiling can predict indoctrination.

      And,if you think a bit about it,sarren never actually went rogue.He acted in the only way he knew that would alert the galaxy to the threat,even if it meant complete brainwashing followed by dishonorable death for him.Thats why I love the heck out of the guy,he is the unsung hero of the first game.

    • drlemaster says:

      I thought they tried to prevent Spectres from going rogue by giving them all the benefits of going rogue up front. They already don’t seem very accountable. That, and maybe SPECTRE HR put up all these poster with pictures of enormous Cerberus cluster@#$%^ with the caption, “This is what happens when you go rogue.”

  4. Jokerman says:

    Mumbles was the ghost of the first few seasons….hmmmm

  5. Eric says:

    I can’t tell if Marina Sirtis is a bad actress or if she just doesn’t care about the show, her character and her role and therefore doesn’t put in much effort. To be honest, either one is equally probable. Either way it’s pretty obvious why they had both Tasha and Troi on the show in those earlier seasons… Trek truly is a progressive show indeed.

  6. McNutcase says:

    Ah, the debut of actual credits, and the first instance of Kevin McLeod’s excellent music. This one, if you don’t want to wait for episode 20 of Mass Effect, is titled Enter the Party. Somewhat appropriate.

    And the unintentional irony of Randy’s credit here considering what’s about to happen (ie the hostile takeover which led to the establishment of Chaotic Stupid as the official Spoiler Warning playstyle) is delicious.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Opening on an elevator.I really dont know why they were so hated,when they are the best kind of a loading screen:They add a sense of real connection between the parts of the game,and they dont yank you out of the game by showing you some random picture.Also,I find it funny how you guys complained that the citadel looks kind of small in the first game,when in 2 and 3 it looks even smaller,precisely because the elevators were replaced by conventional loading screens.

    • McNutcase says:

      I just wish I could remember which episode opened with Conan eyeballing the camera. That was about the best open of the series.

    • ehlijen says:

      I think the problem is more that the elevators are fixed length and badly spaced. Fixed length elevator rides mean you can’t reduce the delay by having a faster computer. Which means everyone has the delay assumed to be needed for the slowest computer meant to run the game. This problem didn’t become truly bad till later when everyone had faster computers.

      The bad placing, gameplaywise even if they logically make sense, just exacerbated that problem. There really needed to be a rapid transit terminal in the Normandy docking bay.

      • Moriarty says:

        The elevators aren’t fixed in speed though. Having a faster computer makes your elevators move faster while the xbox or an older computer might drive you insane on the elevator on your own ship.

        The problem actually got worde in ME2, because the loading screen animations were real movies instead of being dependent on loading speed, so even when your computer finished loading it still showed you the rest of the animation. (deleting the movie files in the games directory gives you a black screen instead, which can reduce the time you have to wait by a lot.)

        • Calatar says:

          Not quite. Elevators really were fixed in minimum length in ME1, but they could take longer if you had a slow PC, because there could be an additional “Loading” indicator which popped up mid-transit, extending that 30 second trip. Especially noticeable from the Citadel to the Presidium, the Presidium to the Wards, and CSec to the Normandy. No matter how fast your computer, you’re gonna hear some Muzak, a news report, or maybe have some companion banter. I used the fast travel whenever possible.

          ME2’s loading screens were shorter, although they were multiples of the loading animation. Pretty bad when the loading animation is 15 seconds long and it only takes your computer 2 seconds to load it, but still not as bad as a 30 second elevator ride.
          Even better because that quick fix does improve load times significantly (although it caused me crash problems when the Collectors boarded the ship).

  8. PurePareidolia says:

    Oh wow, I just realised something that made the plot make MORE sense for once.

    In the video you guys point out that the Salarian Councillor’s theory appears to be “Saren made up the Reapers so that way if his private conversation was recorded and shown to the council he’d throw them off his trail”, but actually, the Salarian councilor suggested it was a lie invented to control the Geth. Where did the recording come from? The memory banks of a Geth platform, who was standing in the room at the time. So that’s not actually him being thick, just assuming that Saren was being “in character” at the time.

    • anaphysik says:

      Another point: it’s actually Benezia that mentions the Reapers in that recording. It’s also possible that 1) Saren convinced her of the Reapers as well, likely because he couldn’t trust anyone but himself to not break the truth to the geth; or 2) Saren confided the falsehood to Benezia and she’s simply going a bit over-the-top with it (seriously, that line delivery is kinada cheesy).

      That’s the problem with being cagey; you can way overthink things.

  9. Cody211282 says:

    Ah going back and watching these makes me really really wish they had made a third game.

    • lurkey says:

      What third game? They never made any sequels. Too bad, really.

    • some random dood says:

      What – they made a second game? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I would have loved to do some more exploring the universe. Maybe they would have figured out how to use more than one colour per world (I loved bouncing around, finding a high point, getting out of the Mako, and just taking in the view. The closest I’ll ever get to stepping on another world, and they often managed to get the feel right).
      The in-depth dialogues where you could get to know the characters, and the flavour of the universe they created. OK, the paragade system was a little clunky, but they should hopefully improve with time, right? (And at least nothing depended on quick-time events, so that you could relax and take in the flavour of the dialogue while sitting back and sipping some drink considering how you want to respond.)
      Also, never having to worry about ammo! That was a masterstroke – getting rid of silly ammo-drops, and making future-weapons feel like a future weapon and not just a tweaked version of present-day guns. It was great that they allowed you to build a weapon using the top-end cooling mods that you could hold down the trigger and not even worry about the overheating mechanism.
      Similarly, the armour! You could build it up, and use powers, so that you could stand in the middle of a fire-storm flinging out biotics or tech or bullets like a real bad-ass – no need to cower behind cover every two or three seconds.
      Ah, wish they made a sequel…

  10. Phil says:

    Ah, but you’ve left one mystery still unsolved. WHY was Mumbles disappoint?

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